By Paul Helmke, Brady Campaign | Brady Blog
Trying to "grade" President Obama's first hundred days with respect to gun
violence prevention is like grading a student who has registered for class, done
a good job with preparations, but has put off attendance and test-taking to the
Over the last 100 days, the nation has suffered a string of mass shootings
taking the lives of 57 people in less than a month – including seven police
officers, thirteen aspiring citizens and eight senior citizens (not to mention
the other approximately 3,100 murdered by gunfire since January 20 whose deaths
didn't make national news).
We have also learned that a large percentage of the firearms traced at crime scenes in Mexico come from the United
States, including military-style assault weapons used to murder police and
innocent bystanders in Mexico's drug war. The nation also marked the somber
anniversaries of the Virginia Tech massacre (two years ago) and the Columbine
school shooting (10 years ago).
The President's direct response to this gun violence – a public safety and
public health issue more lethal than pistachios, spinach or peanut butter
crackers – has been minimal.
On the one hand, the President has appointed people with
strong records on gun violence prevention to his cabinet and Administration,
including Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel.
The White House Web site continues to show the President's
commitment to requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales at gun
shows, childproofing guns, making crime gun trace data accessible so law
enforcement can fight the illegal arms trade, and permanently banning
military-style assault weapons.
The President sent "thoughts and prayers" to the victims in Binghamton on
April 3. In his April 16 news conference in Mexico, he said that we need to deal "with assault weapons that… are
helping fuel extraordinary violence" and that "tracing of bullets and ballistics
and gun information" needed to be accessible to law enforcement.
The Obama Interior Department wisely decided not to appeal our lawsuit to block the last-minute Bush Administration rule allowing
loaded, concealed guns into our national parks.
On the other hand, the gun violence prevention movement is
disappointed that – in the face of a problem that takes the lives of over 30,000
Americans a year, an average of 84 Americans a day, including 32 by homicide,
and injures another 70,000 each year – that the Administration is not doing more
now to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.
The President should strongly support the bill introduced last week to require Brady criminal background checks for all gun purchases
– something that should not concern any legitimate gun owner, but something that
would make it harder for dangerous people to get guns easily.
The President should oppose efforts to permit almost anyone to have
.50-caliber sniper rifles and military-style assault weapons, particularly in our nation's
The President should make it clear that efforts to disrupt trafficking in illegal guns and stockpiling of private
arsenals are not a threat to law-abiding gun owners.
While the Obama Administration has been unwilling so far to be tested on popular gun violence prevention policies – over 80% of
Americans favor criminal background checks for all gun sales, including at gun shows, with solid majorities in favor of
banning military-style assault weapons – we are optimistic that in the coming
months the White House will take common sense steps to reduce the staggering toll that gun violence takes every day on